STREET FEAR: Joel Hortz, front, is nervous about travelling into Byron Bay after his friend was chased and beaten.
STREET FEAR: Joel Hortz, front, is nervous about travelling into Byron Bay after his friend was chased and beaten.

Thugs target Byron teens

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

THE PARENTS of a 15-year-old boy who was stalked and attacked by a group of men in Byron Bay have called for increased police patrols in the town.

The boy's parents have held back their identity out of fear of reprisals from the attackers.

They say their son is now too fearful to go out alone or with friends at night after he and four mates were set upon by three men on Saturday night.

"I want the police to have more patrols along Bangalow Road where my son was attacked, not just in the town's centre," the boy's father said.

After one teen was bashed in the face at Apex Park, the group of boys say they were followed home by the men, believed to be aged in their early 20s. They were in a green Holden Barina.

When the 15-year-old made a run into his front yard screaming for his father, one of the men grabbed him from behind.

"They sped at us with their high-beam lights on and we all ran," the boy said. "We hid from them, and when I thought they couldn't see us I ran towards my front gate, but they saw me. One of the guys was chasing me and he grabbed me by my neck...and then he hit me across the face.

"We're scared now. We've decided not to go out again; not unless my stepfather drives us.

"We're not feeling safe in Byron Bay. We feel it's changed. I feel like I have to look over my shoulder now."

Another youth, Joel Hortz, 13, is a friend of the victim, but wasn't involved in the incident.

Joel said he also felt unsafe after witnessing a number of fights and hearing about similar incidents from his mates. (Joel's parents have given him permission to speak out).

"It's just not feeling as safe as it used to," he said.

The parents of the youth who was attacked also want the community to be more vigilant.

"The attackers are thugs. They're fully-grown men assaulting children," the boy's angry father told The Northern Star.

"I'd like to hear from other parents out there to see if this is happening to other kids."

Byron Bay police Inspector Owen King said the incident had been investigated, but without more detailed descriptions of the men or their car they could not be found.

Insp King said he had not heard of other incidents involving a green Holden, but urged people to come forward and report such incidents.



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